You are using an old browser that may not function as expected. <br><strong>For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.</strong>

Log in Become a Member


Hebrew term (also Yáyin) for wine; see under Bible.

The Israelites had to conquer or settle in Canaan (the biblical name for Palestine), known as the "Promised Land", twice. This took place under Abraham, the progenitor of Israel (and incidentally also of the Arabs) around 2000 to 1900 and under Moses after forty years of wandering in the desert around 1300 to 1200 B.C. Historical research is not unanimous as to whether the two people actually lived or are rather only legendary figures. In any case, Moses died after reaching the destination without having entered it. At the border, Moses received orders from Yahweh to scout out the land of Canaan that he had intended for the Israelites. There they came to a wadi (torrent valley) near Hebron. This is written in the book of Numbers as follows (13.22 ff): It was just the time of the first grapes. When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a vine there with a bunch of grapes, which they carried two by two on a pole, along with some pomegranates and figs. The grape (Hebrew eshkol = grape) must therefore have been huge. According to unverifiable hypothesis, today's grape variety Neheleschol is supposed to be a descendant.

Bibel - Karte Israel und Juda, Moses mit Gebotstafeln, Riesenweintraube Eschkoltal

Wine in the Bible

Wine is a frequent theme in the Bible. Vineyard occurs over 90 times, vine over 60 times and wine press 15 times. According to the biblical scholar Jürgen Becker, wine is referred to directly or indirectly in a total of 979 passages. By comparison, this is true of Homer's (8th century BC) works Iliad and Odyssey only 49 and 85 times respectively. Although beer was also a widely consumed drink at the time, it did not have the same status. Martin Luther (1483-1546) said: Beer is man's work, but wine is from God. Bible researchers found eight different Hebrew words that were translated as "wine" in the various languages. Not all of them are real wine, but some are syrup, beer-like or other alcoholic drinks made from tree and field fruits. The following names occur more than 200 times:

  • Ásis = sweet or vintage wine
  • Chemer = strong red wine mixed with water
  • Mimsák = mixed or spicy wine (spiced wine)
  • Shékár = strong drink made from barley, honey or dates
  • Shemárim = old wine
  • Sob'e = strong, intoxicating drink, mixed with water
  • Tirósh = young wine
  • Yáyin (Jájin) = general term for wine

Bibel - Biubel, Messkelch und Patena (Hostienschale)

Viticulture and wine consumption among the Israelites

The importance of viticulture for the Israelite community is illustrated by statements in the Book of Deuteronomy. This is a collection of sermon-like speeches and laws that Moses announced to the Israelites before they entered the land of Canaan. Regarding participation in an upcoming battle (20.6), he says: " Who is the man who has planted a vineyard and has not yet used it? Let him arise and return to his house, lest he die in battle and another man use it. So the vine grower was exempt from military service until the maiden harvest and that was a period of three to five years. So to the Israelites, securing the vineyard was more important than one more man in battle.

Regulations in the vineyard

There were very strict regulations for behaviour regarding the eating of grapes in the vineyard. Some examples are (23.35): When you come into your neighbour's vineyard, you may eat grapes as much as you like until you are full; but you must not put anything into your vessel. And also the time after the harvest was regulated (24.21-22): When thou gatherest in thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean afterward: it shall be to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow. The Book of Leviticus 19.10 also addresses the issue: Even in your vineyard you shall not glean, nor gather up the fallen berries. Leave them to the poor and the stranger.

Enjoyment of wine as an expression of joy

Although Judaism affirms frugality and frowns upon all ostentation, it accepts all physicality as God-given. This also includes drinking...

Voices of our members

Dominik Trick

The wein.plus encyclopaedia is a comprehensive, well-researched reference work. Available anytime and anywhere, it has become an indispensable part of teaching, used by students and myself alike. Highly recommended!

Dominik Trick
Technischer Lehrer, staatl. geprüfter Sommelier, Hotelfachschule Heidelberg

The world's largest Lexicon of wine terms.

26,076 Keywords · 46,829 Synonyms · 5,324 Translations · 31,411 Pronunciations · 186,809 Cross-references
made with by our author Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer. About the Lexicon